When it comes to climbing the ladder of live music venues in Los Angeles, making the leap from the Greek Theatre (capacity: 5,900) to the Hollywood Bowl (capacity: 17,500) is no easy feat—unless, of course, you are the Gipsy Kings.

Less than a year removed from a rousing performance in the shadow of the famed Griffith Park Observatory, this group of guitar-driven French gitanos returned to Southern California to pack the bowl for not one, but two consecutive nights on a late summer weekend.

Perhaps that sort of sales success should come as no surprise. After all, L.A.’s population is comprised predominantly of people hailing from Spanish-speaking cultures. And after Grupo Firme sold out back-to-back shows at SoFi Stadium (capacity: 70,000) back in late May, the prospect of the Gipsy Kings—who have been around for nearly four decades longer—pulling off a similar feat at a venue that’s a quarter of the size must have seemed well within reach.

Granted, the Gipsy Kings sing and speak predominantly Catalan, with bits of Spanish and southern French dialects mixed in. Still, that combination of romance languages lends itself well to a local populace whose own modes of speech, while largely Spanish, shift shapes from Mexico and El Salvador to Guatemala, Honduras, Argentina and beyond.

Filling seats, though, is one thing. Getting people up out of said seats is a whole separate endeavor. Here, again, the Gipsy Kings not only passed with flying colors, but did so with apparent ease.

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After a wonderful warmup from Brazilian guitarist Roge, Nicolas Reyes and his merry band of family and friends assumed their rightful place beneath the world-famous bowl and summarily started summoning fans to their feet. From “Djobi Djoba”, “Chiribi”, and “Baila Me” to a closing run of “Bem Bem Maria”, “Bamboleo”, “Vamos a Bailar”, and “Volare”, the Gipsy Kings had the crowd dancing in their boxes, through the aisles, and everywhere in between.

When they weren’t busy busting out bangers, the band sprinkled in a selection of beautiful ballads. Some, like “Quiero Saber” and “Un Amor”, were sung by the 63-year-old Nicolas, the lone original member leading the American leg of the Gipsy Kings’ current tour. Others, like covers of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” and the Eagles’ “Hotel California”, got the operatic treatment from long-time Gipsy Kings collaborator Joseph “Zuzep” Gautier.

Along the way, Nicolas ceded the vocal spotlight to his sons Yohan and Georges, both of whom looked and sounded the part of future band leads, ready for whenever their father’s time at center stage comes to an end.

And while Tonino Baliardo, another founding member of the Gipsy Kings and Nicolas’ cousin, once again remained across the pond, his presence was still plentiful, courtesy of his son, Nico Baliardo. The scion of the Baliardo family was as clinical as ever, strumming and plucking his way through the group’s legendary catalog with a quiet confidence, betrayed only by the smiles that snuck through every time the audience arose to praise him.

In truth, attendees reacted as much to the sheer joy with which the Gipsy Kings played as they did to the superlative skill on display. The combination of three lefties and three righties on guitar created a symmetrical symphony of strings unlike anything the Los Angeles Philharmonic might otherwise bring to the Hollywood Bowl.

That energy was (and is) as infectious as it is attractive, even in a city like L.A., where the nightly concert calendar has been nothing short of stacked since the initial winter Omicron wave of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic subsided earlier this year. Those working behind the scenes to produce the Gipsy Kings’ two-night run at the Bowl clearly knew their audience, and they provided that audience with consecutive evenings of non-stop, flamenco-fueled fun accordingly.


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